Week 4 - SUBMERGE - Part 1

Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). He spoke these words just a few hours before he was arrested; fully aware and prepared to endure the cross and suffer the grave as an ultimate act of love for the world. He came to take away sin and destroy the works of the devil. Gospel singer and songwriter Kirk Franklin wrote, “the world is always waiting for someone to save the day, make things better. We’ve lost hope in politics, preachers. ... As a child of God, I just believe that Jesus is our hero, he is the one that came to save a person’s life, to save a person’s soul, to restore people back to themselves with a love that’s real - an unconditional sacrificial love”. The Bible says, “that we know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).

Key Questions

In what ways have you experienced real love from others in your life?

What stories of sacrificial love challenge you or inspire you the most?

Can you think of a time that forgiveness helped one of your relationships?

Why did Jesus have to die?

From Michael Horton’s 2016 article entitled N. T. Wright Reconsiders the Meaning of Jesus’s Death.
Abstracted from the story of Israel, the gospel becomes reduced to “Jesus bore God’s wrath in your place so you could go to heaven when you die. That view of the gospel has some legitimate pieces of the puzzle, but it doesn’t put them together properly. The result of this view is that evangelicals have moralized the problem (sin merely as violations of a code), paganized the solution (an angry Father punishing his Son), and platonized the goal (going to heaven when we die). N.T. Wright identifies this misunderstanding of the basic plot of the Bible the “works-contract.” Instead of this works contract, Wright offers what he calls the covenant of vocation. The relationship God established with Adam and Eve was indeed a covenant, but it was commission to rule, subdue, and fill the earth as God’s viceroy, or royal official. So rather than the problem being reduced to “sin”—understood as a legal infraction—the tragedy goes much deeper. Sin is a symptom of idolatry. When we turn from worshiping the true God, we surrender the authority God has given us to the idols—the powers and principalities of darkness. But the covenant of vocation resumed with the calling of Abram, promising a worldwide family.

Through Israel—a new Adam—God would save the world. And although the nation, like Adam, failed in this vocation, God was faithful to his covenant. Even in exile, Israel was promised God’s presence. He would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the ruins himself. Jesus is both the God who fulfills the covenant and also the true Israel in and through whom he will do it. Idolatry is the plight and the victory over the evil powers through the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s cross is the solution. The New Testament regularly speaks of Jesus’ death as the defeat of the powers of evil that have kept the world in captivity, with the implication that the world is actually going to change as a result—through the life and work and witness of those who believe this good news. Think of Revelation 5:9–10. Humans are rescued from their sin so that they can be “a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” That began at Easter and, in the power of the Spirit, has continued ever since.


For more study on the death of Jesus: The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge

Let us ask God to make us true in our love, to make us sacrificial beings, for it seems to me that sacrifice is only love put into action.
Elizabeth of the Trinity

Prayers for the Church

As a confessing act of unity and faith with Christ’s Church globally, read aloud the following liturgy:

Come, Holy Spirit.
We pray that your fruit would be in us:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.

(Common Prayer: A Liturgy of Ordinary Radicals)

At this time offer up prayers for Christ’s Church around the world.

After praying, read the following:

Through our lives and by our prayers, may your kingdom come!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayers for the City

With the welfare of Chicago in mind read the scripture and following liturgy to lament the violence in our city:

Jeremiah 29:4–5, 7

Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.
For the unbearable toil of our sinful world,
We plead for remission.
For the terror of absence from our beloved,
We plead for your comfort.
For the scandalous presence of death in your Creation,
We plead for the resurrection.
Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.

(Common Prayer: A Liturgy of Ordinary Radicals)

Pray against violence in the city of Chicago. Pray for God to break the culture of death that is so often the norm and restore a culture of life--as we pursue the good of all image bearers among us.

After, pray the following aloud over this beautiful city in which God has placed us:

Like the blind man whom Jesus healed,
May Chicago become a sign
of your glory, calling you the Anointed One,
The one who also anoints us and points us to the Love of God.
Grants us your healing peace, Amen.

My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.
Psalm 22:14–16